(NEW YORK) — Trump claims FBI took his passports during Mar-a-Lago search
ABC News confirmed FBI agents seized three of the former president’s passports during the raid but they were all returned and two were already expired.
Former President Donald Trump said in a social media post on Monday that the FBI seized his passports during an unprecedented raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last week.
“Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social. “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”
An official with the Department of Justice told ABC News that Trump’s passports have been returned to his team.
When asked for comment, an FBI spokesperson told ABC News: “In executing search warrants, the FBI follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts, then returns items that do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes.”
Trump’s spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, took to Twitter on Monday night to post an email allegedly sent by the Justice Department’s counterintelligence head, Jay Bratt, alerting Trump’s team that they were in possession of Trump’s passports and offering a time to collect the documents from the FBI’s field office in Washington, D.C.
Multiple sources confirmed to ABC News that Trump’s residence in Palm Beach was searched by FBI agents on Aug. 8, starting at 10 a.m. local time. The former president was not there.
Sources said the operation was related to the 15 boxes of documents that Trump took when he departed the White House, some of which the National Archives has said were marked classified. In January, Trump handed over documents to the National Archives, and his attorneys said they were searching for additional records they may have.
The former president issued a statement on the night of Aug. 8, saying Mar-a-Lago “is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” He added: “They even broke into my safe!”
Multiple sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News that the Justice Department and the FBI believed Trump continued to keep sensitive classified documents that had national security implications, and that in recent weeks officials received additional information suggesting he was not complying with requests to provide the information the Justice Department believed he had in his possession.
The information was sensitive enough that authorities wanted to take it back into possession immediately.
On Aug. 12, a judge released redacted copies of the warrant as well as inventory from the search. The federal government had requested the documents be unsealed.
The filing indicated that the Justice Department is investigating potential violation of at least three separate criminal statutes, including a statute under the Espionage Act. Under the receipt showing property that was seized from Mar-a-Lago, FBI agents noted that they recovered 11 sets of documents of various classifications ranging from confidential to top secret and sensitive compartmented information.
In June, an attorney for Trump signed a statement saying that all classified documents at Mar-a-Lago had been turned over to federal investigators, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. The signed statement was submitted after the first subpoena but before a second.
The signed declaration came on the heels of a June visit by federal agents who were searching for additional materials that Trump was believed to have failed to turn over to the National Archives. During that visit, Trump stopped by and greeted the agents. Two lawyers representing Trump were present during that visit, sources told ABC News.
Trump complied with a second subpoena seeking security footage of the Mar-a-Lago club towards the end of June, sources said.
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The raid on Mar-a-Lago is believed to be the first search by the FBI of the residence of a current or former U.S. president. Trump and other Republicans have sharply criticized the raid as a partisan attack and have demanded an explanation. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
ABC News’ Luke Barr, Katherine Faulders, John Santucci and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.
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